“My Adventures With Heroes, Villains and Survivors” by John Peers; book review by John Morris
Travel bans and lockdowns have led many to plan a fresh beginning once the restrictions finish. They have given people a new desire and motivation to extend their life experiences. One of the main ways this manifests itself is by looking for new travelling experiences.
Social distancing and closures of pubs and schools have caused isolation, loneliness and reduced access to families, friends and neighbours. Heroes often reveal themselves in the face of hardship and this has certainly been true over the last year or so. Those that have stepped up and asked, “what can I do to help?” and “how can I make a difference?” have made an enormous difference.
Readers of all ages will enjoy an intriguing, engaging and thought-provoking personal account of these phenomena by JD (John) Peers. My Adventures with Heroes, Villains and Survivors talks about his experiences, challenges and adventures while travelling to Europe and Western Asia.
He tells us all about the people he has met “on his journeys and within his extensive experience of life”.
The overriding feature of the stories he shares is his ability to engage successfully with characters appropriately described as “heroes, villains and survivors”. In a similar style to Michael Palin in his BBC films Journeys Around The World, John displays a talent and enthusiasm to gain the confidence and co-operation of locals to see a dimension of life as it is for them.
Azerbaijan and Chernobyl
Readers will gain an awareness and insight into the impact of life in “difficult areas” as John describes his experience on a beach in Azerbaijan and his trip with families revisiting Chernobyl. The latter is particularly poignant when he states, “their raw emotion will never leave me”.
John’s accounts of his travels on his beloved motorbike are full of exuberance. They are also, at times, incredible as he talks the challenges, poverty and emotional turmoil experienced by many of the characters he meets.
Readers may well find the accounts of his trips eye-opening in terms of extending historical awareness. Astrid’s story, a visit to a camp at Majdanek in Romania, the poverty in Moldova, the horrors of the Terezin Ghetto, Colditz and other experiences are examples of that. However, they may be emotionally draining in terms of the suffering experienced.
In contrast to some of the undoubtedly dismal pictures painted in some of his travels, readers will enjoy the tales of visits to the beautiful cities of Budapest, Moscow, Helsinki, Vilnius and Kazin.
In an interesting section, John outlines four reasons why he can engage so openly with people of all ages and sexes. He points out his conversations with locals and visits to places of historical importance make for more enjoyable holidays than sitting or lying on a beach.
John is always looking to make a difference. He runs a successful business, rides a “Blood Bike” with First Responders (Ymatebwr Cyntaf) and is a fund-raising speaker for the GoodSAM App and Lady Taverners.
Judging by the experiences in the book, it is clear John gains great personal satisfaction from his contributions to his community. The story of lla Teromaa highlights the importance of influence and role models and how they must lead by example.
John also recognises the people who have had a positive influence on his life have been agents of change and motivators. He is full of praise for those he calls his “personal mentors”, including his teacher at primary school, colleagues in business and many others.
However, his ultimate praise and recognition for the part they have played in inspiring and motivating him to be such a “people’s person” is reserved for three key people in his life
Three Important Women
Particularly heartwarming is how he describes the adoption of his daughter Donna. He explains that decision as “my life’s single most important accomplishment”.
The extra value that Donna has brought to his life reflects how her adoption has changed her perspective. Her feelings are encapsulated when she says, “I had lost hope until John came into my life and adopted me. I felt like I had my life back again”.
It is also evident how his life changed “direction” after he met Gina in Czechia (The Czech Republic) and how she has become his absolute soulmate.
Finally, he praises his mother, who showed him the inner spirit and tenacity to “just go for it”.
An Inspirational Account
I congratulate John on putting pen to paper and compiling an inspirational account of such revelatory and engaging experiences. The stories may well motivate readers to reflect on their lives after the lifting of lockdowns and restrictions.
They may well consider strategies to “just go for it”, whether for adventurous holidays, challenging activities, ways to help others or put something back into their communities.
Well worth reading and good to see a Wrexham boy achieving his dreams.
Da Iawn John, diolch (Very good, John. Thanks)
Title: My Adventures with Heroes, Villains and Survivors
Author: John D Peers
Publisher: Nu-Age Print and Copy Burnley Tel: 01282 413 373)
Length: 143 pages
About the Reviewer
John T Morris played rugby for Dudley College, GWR (Ealing) and Aberystwyth University before injury cut short his playing days. He specialises in fitness training to improve speed, strength and, stamina. John was Wrexham RUFC fitness coach, a WRU fitness consultant and a weight-training coach at the Queens Park centre.
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Main image: North of the Arctic Circle in Norway